Interview with Paul Tibbitt

Background: On July 8, 2022, former SpongeBob showrunner Paul Tibbitt did a Q&A with The Art of SpongeBob Discord server (link here). The questions as well as Tibbitt's answers have been replicated here for posterity.

@Scrooge200 asks: What's your favorite episode you've written? I'm a big fan of Imitation Krabs and Culture Shock!

PT: Thanks for having me sorry for being late!
I think nature pants will always be my favorite for the simple fact I got to explore a side of patrick that hadn’t been touched. The scary part. But it came from a place of love.
It was my homage to of mice and men.

@flashdawnx asks: how was it like to be showrunner and carry on the legacy of SpongeBob till Season 9

PT: It was a great honor and privilege to take the baton from Steve. I loved every second of my time running the show. I miss all those people and those characters. They are like relatives to me
It was the most fun and most challenging job I ever had

@Snowglobe Emporium asks: What are your thoughts on the seasons after you left, seasons 10-present, have you watched much SpongeBob since leaving the show?

PT: Well to be honest I haven’t seen any of the episodes since I left. At first it was just too sad for me. Missing Steve. But then I just got involved in other things. My TV viewing is mostly regulated to horror movies because i can’t keep up with all my favorite shows. Just not enough hours.
But like i said all those folks I left behind are supremely talented and I’m sure they are probably doing a better job than I did.
I did see one episode of the Patrick show and it made me laugh pretty hard.

@WeegeeCool asks: What was your best/favorite experience or memory with the series in general?

PT: There are so many. It really was a dream job. Everyone really made it fun and we all liked each other (i think) but one memory that stands out was going to the dana point ocean institute where steve worked when he dreamt up SB with the whole crew. It was a magical day. We all went on a bus.
Even the bad days there way always something fun happening
There was an empty office at one point and Arron Springer and I used to take turns putting on this stupid Halloween mask and acting like an animal in the zoo. We had a sign indicating the next showtime and people would gather around the thin window and watch what we called “animal show”. I nearly peed my pants laughing several times. Good timez
Sorry Aaron
Forgive my typos

@FINAL SEND OFF SOON. CHECK BIO. asks: Are there any particular scrapped episodes you remember?

PT: Thats a good question. I can barely remember the ones we made.
If i think of one I’ll let you mnow

@Sponge-Sauce asks: Did Steve Hillenburg have any specific favorite music tracks from the show? How about you?

PT: Well I think the end credit theme was a favorite of Steve’s. I always loved the Ween song because it was awesome to have them involved. They had been the soundtrack to my life since CalArts and so I geeked out. I geeked out so hard i missed a chance to meet them. We were invited to come see them in LA and we were waiting to meet them and Mickey’s wife came out to talk to us. I had no idea who she was but apparently she was sent to test our backstage worthiness. I failed the test. To geeked out.
I’m doing this on my iphone my thumbs aren’t obeying

@Sebby asks: What are some of the biggest issues you can recall running into with the standards and practices team? (A.k.a the censors)

PT: We rarely ran into any issues. I mainly remember anything to do with over eating. No matter how cartoony it was was touchy. Notes like “instead of eating the whole pie could Patrick cut one slice out and eat that” those kind of notes would just push us to find a way to make it impossible to deny. If Patrick’s mouth turns into a vacuum cleaner and he makes a sound like one that would usually answer the note
But we really policed ourselves we didn’t want the childlike vibe to be tainted

@Oswarudo asks: Are you able to give us more details regarding your scrapped versions of the third movie ? Such as the story behind it and why they were cancelled ?

PT: Eggs Ackley
Well. My original pitch was that Nic Cage plays himself. And he runs for President because he didn’t get a part as President and his Agent tells him no one would believe him as President. Then there was a giant space cat god called Galcatacus. We find out that these space cats need Gary so SpongeBob teams up with President Cage to stop them from turning earth into a giant litter box. It was a SpongeBob movie in the mold of independence day.
There are many reasons why it got canceled many too boring to go into. But it started to get less funny when Donald Trump entered the presidential race while we were boarding it. This wasn’t a political thing. Just as it looked more likely that a reality tv star might become President we worried it would come across that was. But thats only like 10% of why.

@Notorious P.I.G. asks: What was the writing process for Sponge Out of Water like? Was it script-driven, board-driven, or some combination of both? Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger are the only credited writers, which surprises me, because most of the movie doesn't feel like their work.

PT: Yeah. We started with a script by them but most of what ended up on screen was written during the boarding animatic stage. I probably shouldn’t go into why steve and I didn’t get any credit. It’s a long boring story.
Sorry not trying to be evasive

@DerpyBaymax asks: Do you know who built the Potty the Parrot puppets used in all of the Patchy the Pirate segments? I noticed there was more than one Potty Puppet. Did something happen to one of the puppets between specials and a new one had to be built?

PT: Yes. He was dunked in water and got ruined. I don’t remember who built the first one but I’m pretty sure the talents at Screen Novelties built the new one.
Poor potty

<@363913960266661888> asks: What instruments did you use to compose Electric Zoo? (the song from Krab-Borg)

PT: Ha.
I used a little Korg synthesizer and pro tools audio software. And a drum loop from some old software. Low tech gear.

ThePickleMan: does the name electric zoo come from somewhere or is it just something random?

PT: I think Kent Osborne came up with that when he was writing lines for the DJ
Just sounded like a dumb name for a song. The least hip sounding name he could think of

ThePickleMan: Do you remember how Potty ended up being dunked in water? is there a story behind that?

PT: It was for a bit. They tried to dry him off and when we got him out of storage he was in a shambles and smelled funny. It must have ended up in a show…can’t recall. You guys would know better than me i bet.
It would be sad to think we cut that … it may have been some network promo

ThePickleMan: i think it must have been a promo because i don't remember him ever ending up in water in an episode

PT: The new potty looked better in camera but lost a bit of his original charm
Yeah. I wasn’t always involved in the promos

@YaddaYadda7946 asks: Is there any truth to the idea that some early s4 episodes were conceptualized during season 3 (before the movie)? If so, is that why C.H. Greenblatt only worked on 2 episodes after the first movie?

PT: There really weren’t any leftover ideas after season three that I remember there was a backlog of half baked ideas that we may have used a few. But nothing fully realized. As for Carl he came back as a favor to me but he was already getting ready to do Chowder so there was no real talk of him staying.

ThePickleMan: unrelated to that question, but somebody just showed me this, it was a promo for Atlantis SquarePantis where Patchy and Potty were underwater

which checks out because a new puppet shows up in Truth or Square next season

PT: There it is. Oh yeah. That made me mad because they could have done that on a set. But the real problem I remember was they made Tom Kenny dive in the water right after getting off an airplane which for the divers out there is SUPER F ING DANGEROUS. he could have gotten the bends. So they almost killed SpongeBob and ruined potty for a but that didn’t even work. Yipes. Thanks for the reminder.

ThePickleMan: very odd decision not to do it on a set since its not that hard just to add a filter over it...would have been a lot safer and nobody would have noticed

PT: Bit not but

@Kozmix asks: were you involved with the show during the production of SpaceBob InvaderPants and Krabs' Army? If so, could you shine some light on these supposed scrapped episodes?

PT: Eggs Ackley

ThePickleMan: this was casey alexander's summary of the episode:
Spacebob - That's funny. Nick posted the title. HA! No spoilers here so it might sound generic... Space aliens find themselves in the KK. (Stay with me here) And want lunch, but Krabs doesn't accept their currency and so they take the KK up into space and demand SB cook a KP. There are twists in the plot, etc. Despite being ridiculously high-concept I think it turned out funny.

PT: Hmmm you know I don’t remember those episodes but i was up to my neck in other stuff so it’s possible they were being worked on while we were doing the movie.
Yeah I’m sure they exist in some form.

@Pizzaface asks: What episode do you consider to be the most representative of who SpongeBob's characters are?

PT: Thats a good question
I will say this. To me “The algaes alway greener” is the ultimate episode. It has everything I love about SpongeBob in 11 minutes if i had to save one episode from being submerged by the Nick promo dept it would be that.

@Oswarudo asks: What was the context behind the "hell world" from a cut version of the third movie ?

PT: I think thats Poseidon. Thats just a guess.
While i was at paramount working on the 3rd movie we boarded three different versions. The one that came out is close my last attempt

@YaddaYadda7946 asks: Was there a specific reason for all the shorts in season 5 compared to other seasons?

PT: I wanted to shake things up. I think we were inspired by what Pete Browngarten was foing with uncle grandpa. Shaking things up. Knocking off some cobwebs. It didn’t always work but I think it was good for the overall writing process
doing. Not foing.

@jicem asks: What was your least favorite/most difficult episode to work on?

PT: Oh jeez
The third movie was obviously the most difficult for me. I don’t have a least favorite episode but there are a few I wish we had a little more time to get right. Atlantis Squarepantis is the one that comes to mind. Mostly because getting David Bowie to do a voice and you know to me David Bowie was like Elvis. A real honest rock god. So you want to live up to that. It was rushed. Just another week and I might not have had that regret. But that being said it came out pretty good.

ThePickleMan: when we talked to casey alexander he said he was disappointed he was cast too late and he didnt get to sing a song

PT: Well yeah it was more than that. He was super protective of his image and he takes the song writing process very seriously. He would not want to sing some song that some boneheaded cartoonist wrote the lyrics for and was also very sick at the time unbeknownst to us. He had been working on his last album for like 10 years so he doesn’t bang out songs on basic cable schedules.

ThePickleMan: interesting

PT: No offense to Casey i call him a boneheaded cartoonist out of love.
He came at it as an actor an was very gracious with his time. I remember walking out into the streets of new york and just sitting on a bench for like twenty minutes trying to remember everything that happened. And just saying over and over Did I really meet David Bowie?
It was a dream and I’ll never forget it

@YaddaYadda7946 asks: What was the budget like on post movie compared to premovie? Did the budget fluctuate while you were showrunner?

PT: Yes the budgets fluctuated because you know, the overseas studio rough draft had to raise there rates understandably because they do amazing work and were in high demand. The average price of an episode adjusting for all the usual reasons probably worked out to the same.
Their rates. AAAAAGH
hand drawn animation is expensive dudes
Lets do two more questions and then I promise ill come back someday and answer some more. I wanna thank all of you for your fan hood over the years. It really has meant alot to me to make people happy. Even if there were some haters along the way. I love SpongeBob and allways will

@Miguel asks: Which of the songs you contributed to the series is your favorite? What was it like working with the other composers/singers on the show?

PT: Oh that was always fun. We had some great composers who really got the show and made collaboration easy. My personal favorite was Hey mean mr bossman from squid on strike. I felt like i was getting away with something subversive on that. I loved how it came out and really sounded great in the episode played on the old timey phonograph

@TheRetroOreo asks: Hi Mr. Tibbitt! I was wondering if Mr. Hillenburg provided you guys any fundamental rules for staying true to the characters/the show's world? Did he give you any words of advice when he gave you the reigns to the show?

PT: Well I think by the end of season 3 and definitely by the end of the first movie i had absorbed so much of Steve’s sensibility and i think that was the main reason he felt comfortable handing me the show. As far as advice i think the thing that stuck with me most he said “ think of producing these shows like shooting a shotgun, they come flying out of the barrel, some of them hit the mark, some miss. Just reload and don’t look back”

ThePickleMan: thank you for sharing that, and thank you so much for answering our questions!
I hope to get to do this again sometime!

PT: You bet. I had fun lying here on the couch. I didn’t have to put on a nice shirt or anything! I would love to do it again someday. And thanks again to all you guys. Please don’t-be offended if I don’t respond to you in the chat but I don’t know if i have time for that. I appreciate you all.

Credit to ThePickleMan#9719 and the rest of The Art of SpongeBob for arranging this Q&A

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